Identifying climates favoring extreme weather phenomena is a primary aim of paleoclimate and paleohydrological research. Here, we present a well-dated, late Holocene Dead Sea sediment record of debris flows covering 3.3 to 1.9 cal ka BP. Twenty-three graded layers deposited in shallow waters near the western Dead Sea shore were identified by microfacies analysis. These layers represent distal subaquatic deposits of debris flows triggered by torrential rainstorms over the adjacent western Dead Sea escarpment. Modern debris flows on this escarpment are induced by rare rainstorms with intensities exceeding \textgreater30mm h−1 for at least one hour and originate primarily from the Active Red Sea Trough synoptic pattern. The observed late Holocene clustering of such debris flows during a regional drought indicates an increased influence of Active Red Sea Troughs resulting from a shift in synoptic atmospheric circulation patterns. This shift likely decreased the passages of eastern Mediterranean cyclones, leading to drier conditions, but favored rainstorms triggered by the Active Red Sea Trough. This is in accord with present-day meteorological data showing an increased frequency of torrential rainstorms in regions of drier climate. Hence, this study provides conclusive evidence for a shift in synoptic atmospheric circulation patterns during a late Holocene drought.
A novel quantitative assessment of late Holocene precipitation in the Levant is presented, including mean and variance of annual precipitation and their trends. A stochastic framework was utilized and allowed, possibly for the first time, linking high-quality, reconstructed rises/declines in Dead Sea levels with precipitation trends in its watershed. We determined the change in mean annual precipitation for 12 specific intervals over the past 4500 yr, concluding that: (1) the twentieth century was substantially wetter than most of the late Holocene; (2) a representative reference value of mean annual precipitation is 75% of the present-day parameter; (3) during the late Holocene, mean annual precipitation ranged between −17 and +66% of the reference value (−37 to +25% of present-day conditions); (4) the driest intervals were 1500–1200 BC and AD 755–890, and the wettest intervals were 2500–2460 BC, 130–40 BC, AD 350–490, and AD 1770–1940; (5) lake-level rises and declines probably occurred in response to trends in precipitation means and are less likely to occur when precipitation mean is constant; (6) average trends in mean annual precipitation during intervals of ≥200 yr did not exceed 15mm per decade. The precipitation trends probably reflect shifts in eastern Mediterranean cyclone tracks.
The Sahara was wetter and greener during multiple interglacial periods of the Quaternary, when some have suggested it featured very large (mega) lakes, ranging in surface area from 30,000 to 350,000km2. In this paper, we review the physical and biological evidence for these large lakes, especially during the African Humid Period (AHP) 11–5 ka. Megalake systems from around the world provide a checklist of diagnostic features, such as multiple well-defined shore- line benches, wave-rounded beach gravels where coarse material is present, landscape smoothing by lacustrine sediment, large-scale deltaic deposits, and in places, tufas encrusting shorelines. Our survey reveals no clear evidence of these fea- tures in the Sahara, except in the Chad basin. Hydrologic modeling of the proposed megalakes requires mean annual rain- fall ≥1.2 m/yr and a northward displacement of tropical rainfall belts by ≥1000 km. Such a profound displacement is not supported by other paleo-climate proxies and comprehensive climate models, challenging the existence of megalakes in the Sahara. Rather than megalakes, isolated wetlands and small lakes are more consistent with the Sahelo-Sudanian paleoenvironment that prevailed in the Sahara during the AHP. A pale-green and discontinuously wet Sahara is the like- lier context for human migrations out of Africa during the late Quaternary.
channel, increasing sinuosity. Upstream, near the migrating knickzone channel gradients also increase, incision is more moderate and floods continue to overtop the banks, favoring meander chute cutoffs. The resulting channel has a downstream well-confined meandering segment and an upstream low-sinuosity segment. These new insights regarding spatial differences along an incising channel can improve interpretations of the evolution of ancient planforms and floodplains that responded to base-level decline.
During the complex dynamic interactions between rainfall and basin properties, different portions of the basin produce runoff at different moments. Capturing this spatiotemporal variability is important for flood analysis, but knowledge of this subject is limited. The presented research aims at improving the understanding of runoff-contributing areas (RCA; hillslope sections from which water flows, reaches the stream network, and consequently the basin outlet) and at examining their relationship with the magnitude of a flash flood's peak discharge. A distributed hydrological model (GB-HYDRA) that enables computing RCA and flood discharge was developed. The model was applied to four medium-size basins (18–69 km2) in a Mediterranean climate and 59 flash flood events were analyzed. The correlation between basin input flux (basin area multiplied by the basin maximal rain intensity averaged over the time of concentration) and output flux (observed peak discharge) was poor (R2= 0.16). However, using a newly developed index, termed IRCA, to calculate the input flux accounting only for the RCA extent and rainfall intensity over it, resulted in a substantially higher correlation (R2= 0.64) across a wide range of flood magnitudes. The highest correlation was found using a 50-min time window, which is shorter than the time of concentration. Flood events were categorized according to their magnitude and the differences of several factors among the groups were examined. Pre-storm soil moisture content was found to be similar for all event magnitudes; however, pre-peak soil moisture content was substantially different between moderate and large–extreme events. Other important properties that differed between magnitudes were: RCA extent and its averaged rain intensity and ratio of convective rainfall. Finally, areas with land-uses characterized by low runoff potential became dominant and contributed mainly during large and extreme events. Although the RCA and its extent full potential is yet to be fulfilled, it is proposed as a significant tool for understanding processes of flash flood generation at the basin scale in future research.
Abstract. This paper describes an integrated, high-resolution dataset of hydro-meteorological variables (rainfall and discharge) concerning a number of high-intensity flash floods that occurred in Europe and in the Mediterranean region from 1991 to 2015. This type of dataset is rare in the scientific literature because flash floods are typically poorly observed hydrological extremes. Valuable features of the dataset (hereinafter referred to as the EuroMedeFF database) include (i) its coverage of varied hydro-climatic regions, ranging from Continental Europe through the Mediterranean to Arid climates, (ii) the high space–time resolution radar rainfall estimates, and (iii) the dense spatial sampling of the flood response, by observed hydrographs and/or flood peak estimates from post-flood surveys. Flash floods included in the database are selected based on the limited upstream catchment areas (up to 3000km2), the limited storm durations (up to 2 days), and the unit peak flood magnitude. The EuroMedeFF database comprises 49 events that occurred in France, Israel, Italy, Romania, Germany and Slovenia, and constitutes a sample of rainfall and flood discharge extremes in different climates. The dataset may be of help to hydrologists as well as other scientific communities because it offers benchmark data for the identification and analysis of the hydro-meteorological causative processes, evaluation of flash flood hydrological models and for hydro-meteorological forecast systems. The dataset also provides a template for the analysis of the space–time variability of flash flood triggering rainfall fields and of the effects of their estimation on the flood response modelling. The dataset is made available to the public with the following DOI: https://doi.org/10.6096/MISTRALS-HyMeX.1493.
Floods comprise a dominant hydroclimatic phenomenon in aridlands with significant implications for humans, infrastructure, and landscape evolution worldwide. The study of short-term hydroclimatic variability, such as floods, and its forecasting for episodes of changing climate therefore poses a dominant challenge for the scientific community, and predominantly relies on modeling. Testing the capabilities of climate models to properly describe past and forecast future short-term hydroclimatic phenomena such as floods requires verification against suitable geological archives. However, determining flood frequency during changing climate is rarely achieved, because modern and paleoflood records, especially in arid regions, are often too short or discontinuous. Thus, coeval independent climate reconstructions and paleoflood records are required to further understand the impact of climate change on flood generation. Dead Sea lake levels reflect the mean centennial-millennial hydrological budget in the eastern Mediterranean. In contrast, floods in the large watersheds draining directly into the Dead Sea, are linked to short-term synoptic circulation patterns reflecting hydroclimatic variability. These two very different records are combined in this study to resolve flood frequency during opposing mean climates. Two 700-year-long, seasonally-resolved flood time series constructed from late Pleistocene Dead Sea varved sediments, coeval with significant Dead Sea lake level variations are reported. These series demonstrate that episodes of rising lake levels are characterized by higher frequency of floods, shorter intervals between years of multiple floods, and asignificantly larger number of years that experienced multiple floods. In addition, floods cluster into intervals of intense flooding, characterized by 75% and 20% increased frequency above their respective background frequencies during rising and falling lake-levels, respectively. Mean centennial precipitation in the eastern Mediterranean is therefore coupled with drastic changes in flood frequencies. These drastic changes in flood frequencies are linked to changes in the track, depth, and frequency of mid-latitude eastern Mediterranean cyclones, determining mean climatology resulting in wetter and drier regional climatic episodes.
AbstractThis study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between air temperature and convection by analyzing the characteristics of rainfall at the storm and convective rain cell scales. High spatial-temporal resolution (1-km, 5-min) estimates from a uniquely long weather radar record (24-year) were coupled with near-surface air temperature over Mediterranean and semiarid regions in the eastern Mediterranean. In the examined temperature range (5 to 25°C), the peak intensity of individual convective rain cells was found to increase with temperature, but at lower rate than the 7%°C−1 scaling expected from the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, while the area of the individual convective rain cells slightly decrease or, at most, remains unchanged. At the storm-scale, the areal convective rainfall was found to increase with warmer temperatures, whereas the areal non-convective rainfall and the storm-wide area decrease. This suggests an enhanced moisture convergence from the storm-wide extent towards the convective rain cells. Results indicate a reduction in the total rainfall amounts and an increased heterogeneity of the spatial structure of the storm rainfall for temperatures increasing up to 25°C. Thermodynamic conditions, analyzed using convective available potential energy, were determined to be similar between Mediterranean and semiarid regions. Limitation in the atmospheric moisture availability when shifting from Mediterranean to semiarid climates was detected and explains the suppression of the intensity of the convective rain cells when moving towards drier regions. The relationships obtained in this study are relevant for nearby regions characterized by Mediterranean and semiarid climates.
This study expands the Metastatistical Extreme Value (MEV) framework to sub-daily rainfall frequency analysis and compares it to extreme value theory methods in presence of short records and measurement errors. Ordinary events are identified based on the temporal autocorrelation of hourly data and modeled with a Weibull distribution. MEV is compared to extreme value theory methods in the estimation of long return period quantiles from actual data (160 rain gauges with at least 60-year record in the contiguous United States) and on synthetic data perturbed with measurement errors typical of remote sensing rainfall estimation. MEV tends to underestimate the 100-year return period quantiles of hourly rainfall when 5–20 years of actual data are used, but presents diminished uncertainty. When a good model of the ordinary events and adequate number of events per year are available, MEV is able to provide information on the 100-year return period quantiles from 10–20, or even 5 years of data with significantly reduced uncertainty (\textless30% uncertainty for 5-year records). MEV estimates of 100-year return period quantiles from short records are much less sensitive than extreme value theory methods to additive/multiplicative errors, presence of cap values in the estimates, and missing of extreme values. Results from this study strongly support the use of MEV for rainfall frequency analyses based on remotely sensed datasets.
Rainfall in the Levant drylands is scarce, but can potentially generate high-magnitude flash floods. Rainstorms are caused by distinct synoptic-scale circulation patterns: Mediterranean cyclone (MC), active Red Sea trough (ARST) and subtropical jet stream (STJ) disturbances, also termed tropical plumes (TPs). The unique spatiotemporal characteristics of rainstorms and floods for each circulation pattern were identified. Meteorological reanalyses, quantitative precipitation estimates from weather radars, hydrological data, and indicators of geomorphic changes from remote-sensing imagery were used to characterize the chain of hydrometeorological processes leading to distinct flood patterns in the region.Significant differences in the hydrometeorology of these three flood-producing synoptic systems were identified: MC storms draw moisture from the Mediterranean and generate moderate rainfall in the northern part of the region. ARST and TP storms transfer large amounts of moisture from the south, which is converted to rainfall in the hyperarid southernmost parts of the Levant. ARST rainfall is local and intense, whereas TP rainfall is widespread and prolonged due to high precipitation efficiency and large-scale forcing. Thus, TP rainfall generates high-magnitude floods in the largest catchments; integration of numerous basins leads to sediment feeding from the south into the Dead Sea, exhibited in large sediment plumes. Anecdotal observations of the channel with the largest catchment in the region (Nahal HaArava) indicate that TP floods account for noticeable geomorphic changes in the channel. It provides insights into past intervals of increased flash flood frequency characterized by episodes of marked hydrogeomorphic work; such an increase is especially expected during intervals of southerly situated and southwesterly oriented STJs.
Small scale rainfall variability is a key factor driving runoff response in fast responding systems, such as mountainous, urban and arid catchments. In this paper, the spatial–temporal autocorrelation structure of convective rainfall is derived with extremely high resolutions (60 m, 1 min) using estimates from an X-Band weather radar recently installed in a semiarid-arid area. The 2-dimensional spatial autocorrelation of convective rainfall fields and the temporal autocorrelation of point-wise and distributed rainfall fields are examined. The autocorrelation structures are characterized by spatial anisotropy, correlation distances \~ 1.5–2.8 km and rarely exceeding 5 km, and time-correlation distances \~ 1.8–6.4 min and rarely exceeding 10 min. The observed spatial variability is expected to negatively affect estimates from rain gauges and microwave links rather than satellite and C-/S-Band radars; conversely, the temporal variability is expected to negatively affect remote sensing estimates rather than rain gauges. The presented results provide quantitative information for stochastic weather generators, cloud-resolving models, dryland hydrologic and agricultural models, and multi-sensor merging techniques.